Snow and Kingfishers

Snow in our garden
Snow in our garden

We’ve had a week focused on the weather. Unfortunately North Devon is not really set up for dealing with snow. Consequently things do tend to grind to a halt! My work fortunately enables me to stay at home and I have plenty of time to plan my watercolour bird paintings. At the same time I can enjoy how beautiful everything looks. I can also ensure our little feathered friends are well fed and watered. Funnily enough I’ve only ever painted one snowy picture – a little kingfisher.

Kingfisher on a snowy branch
My one and only snowy painting

I’ve successfully painted live on both Facebook and YouTube this week. Coincidentally working on a kingfisher but in a less wintery landscape! ❄️ There is still some fine tuning to do with my live set up. But so far things are looking good and I hope to be able to live stream on a regular basis. I just need to put my brush down for a few hours and learn about the software I am using! I would also like to research the other options available for live streaming, who knows where all this could lead…

Painting a kingfisher in watercolour
Click to watch the live feed on YouTube

As mentioned, I do like to plan all my paintings before I start. This is even more important if you are streaming live! Or indeed, working on a new subject or with a different palette of colours. Saving all your cut off pieces of watercolour paper is a must. You will be able to test your colours on the exact paper you plan to paint on. In due course this will hopefully avoid later problems.. This is also a good time to test whether your paints stain the paper, although this depends on the effect you are after. It will however ensure that any lifting off you do is with the non-staining colours.

How to plan watercolour bird paintings - these are the colours I plan to use for a painting of a kingfisher
Paints needed for a kingfisher in watercolour

Should you have watched me paint you will know that I prefer to work in the traditional way from light to dark. The key to using watercolours to paint realistically is to build the shape and form of the bird or animal. You do this by using progressively darker and more detailed layers. That said, any of you who know me, will realise that my last layer is almost always white – not at all traditional. 🤣 I find that the use of watercolour white or white gouache is what brings things to life. I’ll do a blog on that another time. Though with our world turned white, maybe I should have written about that this week!!

How to plan watercolour bird paintings - these are the colours I plan to use for a painting of a kingfisher
The finished Kingfisher painted with the colours I planned in advance

The key really is to plan first and allow plenty of time. Never feel rushed and don’t feel you have to complete a painting in one sitting, it’s done when it’s done!

I do hope your week has gone well so far, now I must plan more watercolour bird paintings! So until next time….. keep those brushes wet and I will chat to you in my next blog post!
Paul 😃

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Kingfisher in watercolour by Paul Hopkinson, sign up to my blog
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